Caption: Rock Hill Family Medical Center in Lawrence County, Ohio.

Every parent is familiar with the challenges involved with picking up a sick child from school, from leaving work midday to driving all over town for doctors’ appointments and prescriptions. Family Medical Centers’ first school-based center in Rock Hill, Ohio eliminates these strains by enabling children to be seen by health professionals and prescribed treatment on campus while parents remain at work.

The Family Medical Centers (FMC) of Lawrence County are operated by Ironton-Lawrence Community Action Organization and provide family and behavioral health care, dentistry, and pediatric services to over 14,000 patients annually regardless of insurance eligibility or ability to pay. Patients can be seen at one of eight locations including Rock Hill. Given the center’s close proximity to the southern Ohio border, FMC also sees patients from both West Virginia and Kentucky.

Opened in August of 2020, the Rock Hill Family Medical Center is FMC’s first school-based center. Parents sign a consent form at the beginning of the year allowing children five and up to receive care and be transported to the site. The center offers laboratory, dental, and behavioral health services.

When a child feels unwell in class, the teacher sends them to the nurse’s office where they receive an initial assessment to determine if further treatment is needed. If the child requires additional treatment, they are taken to the medical center via a bus service for an examination by a certified nurse practitioner. If the child is cleared to return to class, they are transported back to school on a bus. If their sickness is communicable, a parent is called to pick up the child.

In addition to providing comprehensive care to children in the Rock Hill school district, Rock Hill family medical center staff also prides themselves in being able to offer care to the entire community. Community members utilize a separate entrance from Rock Hill students to eliminate safety concerns. Rock Hill staff can also become the primary care providers for both students and community members if they do not have an established care provider. The center can also operate as an urgent care for those with providers.

“It’s been wonderful to see students and then build relationships with parents and grandparents, and then the whole family is coming here,” said Rock Hill Family Medical Center certified nurse practitioner Melissa Callihan.

Callihan has been with the Ironton-Lawrence Community Action Organization for seven years but specifically with the Family Medical Centers for three. She started working at Rock Hill in August and explained how the rural location of the medical center has been ideal for patients who struggle to drive into town for care.

“Now, [Lawrence County community members] can come a mile down the road and be seen,” Callihan said.

During the pandemic, the center offered free COVID-19 tests and ultimately became a hub for community testing efforts. Staff administered hundreds of rapid tests which proved instrumental in managing community outbreaks.

As Rock Hill Family Medical Center approaches its first anniversary, the overwhelming positive feedback and gratitude of community members serves as an indication of the quality of care given at this medical center. Looking ahead, Rock Hill staff are working to expand their dental treatment, as the current services are only preventative. Additionally, Rock Hill staff are working to partner with Marshall University to create a community health worker program. Both additions are set to be implemented over the next few years and serve as proof of the center’s mission in action to measurably improve the lives of all community members.